There was a lot of crying in Rio today.

Show jumping legend Nick Skelton (GBR) stood atop the Individual Final podium, as the British national anthem played, and wiped a stray tear from his eye. A lifelong dream realized on a horse of a lifetime.

“I was just emotional because I am so happy about what I’ve done. I’ve had a long, long career and to do it now is quite unbelievable for me. I’ve always wanted to do this, nearly did it in London. I’ve had European medals and World medals, but to actually win this at my age and be lucky enough to get this horse here, it’s pretty emotional for all concerned in my opinion,” he revealed.

©FEI/Richard Juiliart

©FEI/Richard Juilliart

Skelton’s last win aboard Big Star, who was also his London Olympic partner, was the Grand Prix of Aachen in 2013. Back-to-back suspensory injuries—first to the left foreleg and then a hind—sidelined the stallion for two years. Skelton has been slowly bringing him back with the explicit goal of riding in Rio.

“It’s taken two years to get him back on track again and it’s taken a lot of work and a lot of people’s time. I always knew in the back of my mind that if we can get him right again that he could do this. He is an absolutely amazing horse,” said the three-time team European Champion.

“For me, he’s the best horse that I’ve ever had or likely ever will.”

At 58, Skelton is the oldest equestrian to ever win an Individual Gold in show jumping at the Olympics. He may also be the most broken.

In 2000, the British rider snapped his neck in two places in a riding accident just before the Sydney Games. At the time, he was told he’d never ride again. Then there was the hip replacement in 2011.

These days, he feels the effects of both.

“I have really bad chronic back pain, so getting legged up is painful,” he said. “Also, I’ve got a metal hip on the left side, so that doesn’t help getting legged up from the ground, so I always get on with a ladder.”

©Jane Thompson/Horse & Pony Magazine

©Jane Thompson/Horse & Pony Magazine

Today in Deodoro Olympic stadium, none of those setbacks seemed to matter. First to go in the six-horse jump off for the gold, Skelton set a blistering track. Then had a torturous wait while five of the best riders in the world, speed demons Kent Farrington (USA) and Eric Lamaze (CAN) among them, attempted to catch it.

“That’s been the biggest nerves of the Games for me,” he admitted. “I stayed on [Big Star] and walked him around. I didn’t try to take a sneaky look and see what was happening, I didn’t really want to look too much. I had to look at Eric because I knew what was coming. I knew he would be faster but he gave me a sweat for a minute.”

Lamaze had the time but caught a late rail, assuring Skelton of the medal.

It was an emotion win for the veteran show jumper and his team. Skelton’s partner, Laura Kraut, and his groom of 31 years, Mark BeaverThe other people dashing away tears in the ring: .

“If you realized how many hours a day [Mark] spends with that horse, you would be amazed. He looks after that one horse and he’s with him nine hours a day constantly caring for him and looking after him,” said Skelton.

When Big Star retires, the newly crowned Olympic champion will too.

“I only ride Big Star at the moment, only ridden him the last two years. I won’t stop now,” he said. “When he stops I will stop, that’s a definite.”

Sweden’s Peder Fredrick took the silver. Canada’s Eric Lamaze, bronze.